Practical Guide to Exceptional Living: Creating and Living the Life of Your Dreams by MorganJamesPublisher

VIEWS: 128 PAGES: 149

More Info

Creating  Living THE Life OF Your Dreams

          JIM GARLAND
              The Practical Guide To Exceptional Living
                Creating and Living the Life of Your Dreams
             Copyright © 2010 Jim Garland. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by
any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording,
or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the author or publisher (except by a reviewer, who may quote
brief passages and/or short brief video clips in a review.)

Disclaimer: The Publisher and the Author make no representations or warranties
with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and
specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of
fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales
or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not
be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the
Publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional
services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent
professional person should be sought. Neither the Publisher nor the Author
shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or
website is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of
further information does not mean that the Author or the Publisher endorses
the information the organization or website may provide or recommendations it
may make. Further, readers should be aware that internet websites listed in this
work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and
when it is read.
Cover Design by: Rachel Lopez
ISBN 978-1-60037-716-7
Library of Congress Control Number: 2009936846

 Morgan James Publishing, LLC
 1225 Franklin Ave., STE 325
 Garden City, NY 11530-1693
 Toll Free 800-485-4943

                        In an effort to support local communities, raise awareness and
                        funds, Morgan James Publishing donates one percent of all
                        book sales for the life of each book to Habitat for Humanity.
                        Get involved today, visit

I dedicate this book to my wife Carrie and our four wonderful
children Bayley, Ellie, Jack, and Benjamin.
     Carrie has been the love of my life since high school. She
is the woman who has made me the man I am today, my soul
mate and truly my best friend. She is the person who brings
me my greatest happiness and joy. Carrie’’s love and support
are the only reason that this book became a reality. Her expe-
rience in journalism helped as well, as she was my rst (and
toughest) editor! She is the best mother a child and husband
could ever imagine - she is patient, fun, energetic, kind, and
adventurous. I love you.
     Bayley, you have been such a delight since the day you
were born that we decided to have three more kids! Your great
a itude, sense of humor and smarts are inspirational. I love
you and cherish all of the joy you have brought to mommy
and me.
     Ellie, watching you grow up has brought more joy to my life
than you will ever know. You are spunky, funny, and smart as
a whip and I adore you for that. I love you and will forever hold
onto the excitement you have given mommy and me.
     Jack, it is a blessing to have you as my son. Your varied
interests amaze me and your sense of humor makes me laugh
until I can’’t breathe. I love you and cherish the conversations,
the fun and the laughter you bring to mommy and me.

     Benjamin, you are a delight to behold, with a twinkle in
your eye and a spring in your step. Jimmy Bu et and Bob
Marley would be proud to hear you sing along to any of their
songs. I love you to the moon and back and thank you for the
happiness you bring mommy and me.
     I also dedicate this book to my late mom (Dickey), my
late Pop (Jake), my late sister (Karen), my brother Joe and
my sisters Leslie and Felicia. I have shared more joy, laugh-
ter and adventure with all of you than the law should allow.
Your support of my crazy ideas has given me the strength I
have found when the odds have been against me. You have all
brought love, passion and excitement to my life. The adven-
tures we shared as children - camping, shing, going to the
beach, Uncle Tommy’’s, traveling in an RV, and simply play-
ing together - are etched in my memory forever. The pleasure
of sharing these things with you makes me the luckiest guy in
the world. With all of my love, I thank you.

                            - vi -

I wish to acknowledge and thank the following people for
giving me the strength, resources and passion for shaping my
life and bringing this book to reality:

   ––   Carrie, Bayley, Ellie, Jack and Benjamin, for the
        unbelievable patience, help, ideas and strength you
        have provided for me on this journey.

   ––   PJ Maher, Sharp Details, Inc. Operations
        Manager, for teaching me to simplify, to look at the
        big picture, to be patient and think things through
        before making a snap judgment or decision. You have
        allowed me to work on my strengths and grow the
        business while you use your strengths to handle the
        day-to-day details and re ne our operating systems.
        You have a management team that would make
        Warren Bu et proud. You have given me the freedom
        to develop relationships with our clients and thereby
        exceed our business goals.

   ––   Christina Miller, Sharp Details, Inc. O ce
        Operations Guru, for organizing and simplifying
        what was chaos and for keeping my ““shoot from the
        hip style”” in check. If I need something you have it, if

                             - vii -
     I have lost something you nd it and if it is technical
     you guide me through it. You manage to keep our
     accounts receivable on time and up-to-date which is
     the life blood of our business. You are the best!

––   Tom Dula, Sharp Details, Inc. CFO, for your
     passion and care for our business, your ability to turn
     the nancially complex into something I understand
     and your friendship. Thank you for steering us in the
     right direction and for helping me turn Sharp Details
     into a nancially sound and pro table business.

––   Ed Behling, Cindy Bailey, Janet Carbajal,
     Brian Dower, Colleen Mascara, Eric Pulling,
     Mike Vinaya, Will Zimdars, Sharp Details,
     Inc. Management Team, your leadership ability,
     professionalism, customer service, a ention to detail,
     hard work, countless hours, patience, creativity and
     dedication continue to exceed what I ever thought
     imaginable. It is what you do, day in and day out that
     has allowed our company to grow and serve so many in
     our wonderful industry. It is an honor and a privilege
     to share this with you. Not a day goes by that I don’’t
     thank the Lord for bringing you to Sharp Details, Inc.
     Your loyalty and friendship mean the world to me.

––   The Sharp Details, Inc. Service Technicians,
     thanks to the men and women who keep our customers
     happy, our managers sane and the nuts and bolts of the
     business running all day, every day. Your dedication,

                         - viii -
     hard work and loyalty are not always praised but are
     always appreciated. Thank you, Gracias!

––   Ann McIndoo, for your, ideas, guidance, resources,
     and business process. Your ability to take my mixed-
     up, disorganized, and rambling ideas and concepts and
     help me turn them into a book has been amazing.

––   David Farber, of Pa on and Boggs, LLP, for your
     tenacity, professionalism, wit and for guiding me through
     one of the toughest periods of my business career.

––   Sharp Details, Inc.’’s clients and friends, for
     your dedication, continued business and friendship.
     A special thanks to Gene Condreras of Panorama
     Flight Service for encouraging me to branch out
     from my core business. You are the greatest clients in
     the world. I have made more lifelong friends in this
     industry than I ever could have imagined. The work
     we all do is challenging, demanding and sometimes
     unforgiving and we love it! My heartfelt thanks to
     all of you. Special thanks to Joe Tate, who gave me the
     opportunity to get into this great industry and to Bill
     Maynard, who rst taught me to clean an aircra !

––   Carroll and Pa y Owens, for never doubting me
     when I wanted to marry your daughter and promised
     to take good care of her, and for always making me feel
     part of the family. Your support is a blessing.

                          - ix -
––   My Friends from Bush Hill Elementary, Thomas
     Edison High School, Radford University, New
     River Valley and Radford Rugby clubs, to Phi Sigma
     Kappa, the Chart House, Barnacle Jim’’s Boat Service,
     Sharp Details, Inc., Rehoboth, St Aidan’’s, St John’’s,
     Riverside Gardens, Grace Episcopal (Jim, Brian, Tony,
     Phil, Bob, Ken and all of your lovely brides), Belle
     Haven, Sur ng (Ross and Dave) and beyond. I thank
     you all for making me laugh so hard that my stomach
     is sore the next day, giving me memories that will be
     with me forever, providing me with inspiration and
     guidance, causing me to raise my standards, improve
     my sur ng and my golf game and most of all for just
     being good friends that I can count on for the rest of
     my life. You guys and gals are the greatest friends I
     could ever ask for!


Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Chapter One
 Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams? . . . . . . . . . .5

Chapter Two
 Your Health and Longevity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

Chapter Three
 The Power of Gratitude and Faith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Chapter Four
 A itude and the Law of A raction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61

Chapter Five
 The Money Dance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77

Chapter Six
 The Life of Your Dreams:
      Se ing and Reaching Your Goals . . . . . . . . . .105

Chapter Seven
 Proof and Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123

Resource Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131

                                       - xi -

I always thought I was someone who tried to strive for excel-
lence in my life. The problem was I never really had the disci-
pline to make the changes that would bring about that excel-
lence. In high school, I played football and did okay, but during
the o -season I was not dedicated to staying in shape. Instead
of striving for excellence, I would just hang out with my bud-
dies. We had fun, but none of us thought about doing what it
would take to play sports beyond high school.
     The same was true with my study habits. I could do well,
but instead of striving for excellence I cruised through with a
low B average and never really thought much about it. As I
moved on to college, things did not change. I a ended Radford
University in Radford, Virginia from the fall of 1986 until my
graduation in the spring of 1990. I had fun, made terri c life-
long friends, played rugby, and coasted through with a C aver-
age. I will never forget the frustration of my math economics
professor, Dr. Kasturi. I was an economics major and needed a
C in his class in order to graduate. We had two tests: the mid-
term and the nal. I bombed the midterm with a 34 (yes, out
of 100). Before the nal, several of us got together and studied
around the clock. A er the nal, I went to Dr. Kasturi’’s o ce
to see if I was going to be able to graduate. In his classic Indian
accent he said, ““Mr. Garland, I do not understand people like
you. You have the ability to do so well, but it is like you do not


care. You got a 105 on the nal——the highest grade in the
class. Your average is a 69.9 and I will give you a C.”” I was
thrilled. He was not.
     He basically posed the question, ““Why are you such an
underachiever?”” At that moment, I realized I had not been
striving for excellence but se ling for mediocrity. I realized
that although I had eeting thoughts of success I had always
accepted mediocrity as the norm. That was a turning point
in my life.
     Like many of you, I wanted a life of joy, success, loving
relationships, nancial stability, adventure and excitement.
Since then I have had several de ning moments in my life,
turning points, that caused me to look at where I was and
make the decision to turn it up a notch.
     What will be the de ning moment in your life? When
will you no longer se le for mediocrity? When are you go-
ing to decide to start designing the life of your dreams? Is
now the time?
     Since that time with Dr. Kasturi, more than 20 years
ago, I have focused much of my energy on studying what ac-
tions people take who truly create the lives that they want——
people who truly strive for excellence. Throughout this pro-
cess, I have read hundreds of books, listened to countless
hours of tapes and CDs, watched videos, a ended seminars,
enrolled in classes for entrepreneurs, hired personal trainers
and coaches and visited, analyzed and learned from count-
less websites. As a result, I have purposely designed my life
and my business to be exactly what I want it to be.
     Here are a few examples:
    ––   I married Carrie, my high school sweetheart and the
         woman of my dreams.

               e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living

    ––   We have been blessed with four beautiful children:
         Bayley, Ellie, Jack and Benjamin.
    ––   Our children a end schools that we love.
    ––   We live in a wonderful house in a beautiful neigh-
    ––   I have grown my business, Sharp Details, Inc.,
         from the trunk of my car (as a boat cleaning service)
         into a company that produces almost $4,000,000 in
         annual revenue, providing aircra detailing, clean-
         ing and support services, operates in eight di erent
         states with over 50 employees, and runs without
         my day-to-day involvement.
    ––   I work out regularly, enjoy great health, and can
         still t into the tuxedo I bought for my wedding 14
         years ago!
    ––   I take 10 weeks of vacation per year (no contact at
         all with the o ce) and spend much of my time with
         my wife and kids.

    My aim in writing The Practical Guide to Excep-
tional Living is to give you a simple book, a guide that can
help you along the way. It is packed with ideas that will save
you years of trial-and-error and gives you the tools and phi-
losophy you need to begin your journey towards creating
and living the life of your dreams. You can make the changes
in your life you have always wanted to make, today…… and
I will show you how!

Warm regards,
Jim Garland

                   Chapter One
  Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams?

         ““Go con dently in the direction of your
        dreams, live the life you have imagined.””
           Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
        American author, poet, and philosopher

            Are you living the life of your dreams? What
            would the life of your dreams look like? How
would you envision it? Many people shy away from
these questions because they are so direct; they really
hit you in the gut and make you start to think and that is
the idea. I want to get you thinking about what the an-
swers to these very direct questions should be and how
you would describe, in detail, the life of your dreams.
You must know what you want and where you want
to go. Answering these questions is where the journey
    By the end of this book you will have developed a
new strategy for how you look at life and a game plan
for deliberately designing the life you desire on every
level. The subjects on the following pages will help you
de ne what it means to have a truly exceptional life. As
you read, think about how these subjects relate to your
daily life.

            Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams?

Time: Your Most Valuable Asset
At the beginning of my business career, I was taught by
my colleagues that working long, hard hours was not
only necessary but was required as a means to success.
It was almost like a badge of honor to work 80-90 hours
per week. If you wanted to succeed you had to put in the
hours at any cost and if you didn’’t, you were not wor-
thy. As I began my journey as a small business owner, I
focused on two things:

   1. Work as many hours as humanly possible
   2. Accumulate as much money as humanly pos-

    As shallow as it seems, that was it. Work hard to
make money. I was 21 and single and this seemed like
a great philosophy. What it actually produced was a
very tired body and mind, a business that could not be
le for ve minutes without my hands in everything, a
girlfriend, and family and friends who wanted to know
why I worked so much. Unfortunately for me, I had
put no value on time and measured my success by how
many hours I worked. This is a sure formula for failure
on every level and I was proving it to myself.
    As time went on and my business continued to grow,
I realized more and more that the additional hours I was
working were becoming less and less productive. It was
at this point that I realized I had to let go of some of
the responsibilities of the business and allow others to
take charge. To delegate e ectively you need patience,
trial and error with many di erent people and a will-
ingness to understand that many mistakes will be made
             e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living

and corrected, along the way. It was one of the hardest
things I have ever had to do; however, as months and
years passed, I became more e ective at building busi-
ness systems and designing clear divisions of author-
ity and responsibility. My business continued to grow, I
began to gain more and more control over my time and
more of my employees improved their management
and leadership skills.
    Thanks to delegating successfully, my philosophy
and life have changed 180 degrees. I now believe that
time is the most valuable commodity I have and how I
spend it is paramount. I no longer work weekends or 80
hours a week. Don’’t get me wrong, I could. I just have
chosen not to, and with that choice have designed my
business and my life so I control how I spend my time.
How did I do it? How is this possible? I made a delib-
erate decision to redesign my life and business. I have
assembled an unbelievable team at my company, Sharp
Details, Inc. and it is this team that has been built over
many years, that has allowed me the bene t of spending
my time as I choose.
    The amazing thing is that since I have set the busi-
ness up in this way and delegated tasks I am not good at
(in an e ort to achieve personal freedom) my business
has improved tremendously. It runs more e ciently
without my hands in everything, it provides jobs for
more people, it serves our customers be er, and it gen-
erates greater revenue than ever. I have nally begun
to achieve true success. To me, that means having the
ability to spend my time the way I want to spend it. This
control over my time has allowed me the exibility to

            Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams?

spend valuable time with my wife Carrie, our children
and at the same time, grow my company 30% per year
over the last three years. It has provided me with the
luxury of being able to pursue other interests includ-
ing creating a foundation, starting a new company and
writing this book. I also have plenty of opportunity for
recreational activities I enjoy, such as traveling with my
family and sur ng and gol ng with my buddies.
     The average person will spend 110,000 hours of their
life on their career (commuting and working 50 hours
per week for a 44 year career from the age of 21-65). This
means you spend more time working and commuting
than you will ever spend with your family. Is this what you
want? Do you so love your job or your business that you
would spend this much time at it, or do you need to make
a change? Outside of work, the time you spend with others
is another critical amount of time you should analyze. Who
are you spending your time with? Do you hang out with
people who support you and give you encouragement on
a daily basis? Are they positive and fun?
     What about your loved ones? Most of us spend time
planning for work, exercise, special events, dinner and
a host of other things. How much time do you actively
plan to spend with your loved ones or do they just get
whatever time is le over?
     To design the life of your dreams, you must gain con-
trol of your time. This is the rst step and here are six
guidelines to help you get started. They will help you be-
gin thinking about how you spend your time. Remember,
your time is your most valuable asset and it is the biggest
factor in designing the life of your dreams.

         e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living

1. Start every day with a plan. I write my daily plan
   on an index card every night before I go to bed.
   This keeps you organized and on task.
2. Ask your workplace to o er you opportunities
   to work from home, or pay you for your results
   instead of your time.
3. Ask your workplace to o er you exible hours.
   Maybe you can go in early some days and late
   on others.
4. Explore opportunities/companies that o er jobs
   working from home utilizing today’’s technol-
5. Manage how you communicate:
   –– Turn o all email alerts on your computer
       and phone.
   –– Put your phone on vibrate.
   –– Put an auto response on your email le ing
       others know you will respond at certain
       times or days so they do not expect an im-
       mediate response.
   –– Plan time with your spouse and kids rst,
       and then ll in around that.
   –– Designate 1-2 days per week that you do not
       check email or work phone.
   –– At dinners out, ball games, and special events
       leave your communication device in the car.
6. Before making commitments to others, ask these
   questions: Do I like being with this person? Do
   they make me feel good? Do we have fun togeth-
   er? If you answer ““no”” to any of these questions,
   rethink spending time with this person. If you

              Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams?

        answer ““no”” and you are married to this person,
        get professional help! Life is too short to spend
        time feeling angst towards the person you have

How is Your Health?
Good health is essential for achieving and living a life
that is full of joy and happiness. Good health will pro-
vide you with the stamina to face life’’s challenges, the
energy to play, and the stamina to take a long walk. It
will give you a mental awareness and strength that can
only be discovered when you are in good shape. It will
also give you the energy to balance your time between
family, work, social commitments, and travel. Most of
all, great health will provide you with longevity and ex-
tra years that will allow you to more fully enjoy all of
life’’s pleasures.
      For any of you who have been overweight and then
been disciplined enough to lose it and get in shape, you
know there is no comparison between how you feel at
your ideal weight and how you felt when you are heavy.
Imagine yourself enjoying working out ve days per week,
eating fruits and vegetables (colorful and vibrant), ge ing
plenty of rest, reducing your stress and being your ideal body
weight. Ladies, imagine ge ing into your size 6-8 jeans you
haven’’t worn since high school! Just the description of this
makes you feel good. Now imagine yourself 30 pounds
overweight, always tired, eating a regular diet of french fries,
burgers and cookies (brown, bland, mushy, greasy), ge ing no
exercise, wearing clothes that don’’t t and always exhausted
from lack of sleep. Now, how do you feel? You see your

                              - 10 -
             e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living

health and weight immediately a ect you mentally as
well as physically. Most people don’’t get this.
    The biggest reason I work out ve to six days per
week, eat a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, limit any
kind of prescription drugs, drink plenty of water, try to
sleep at least six-plus hours every night, quit chewing to-
bacco a er 25 years, and try to stay as close to my ideal
weight as possible is simple. Why? I want to live as long
as possible. Have you ever thought about this? How long
do you want to live? One of my sisters was killed at 19 in
an alcohol-related automobile accident. My mom was a
heavy smoker and died at age 53 from cancer. It is heart-
breaking to think of all of the things they missed because
of poor choices in lifestyle: so many birthdays, ball games,
dance recitals, grandchildren, weddings, baptisms, family
gatherings, sunsets, and adventure. I want you to think
long and hard about your current lifestyle.
    Will you be here to see your children mature and
grow old? Will you be here to watch them raise their
families and pursue their dreams? Will you be here to
enjoy and support them? Be honest with yourself. Are
you going to make it to see the grandkids? Or are you
going to be gone from this earth because of poor health
brought on by poor choices. How is your health?
    Achieving the life of your dreams will require energy.
You should want as many extra years as possible to enjoy.
You are also going to need the self con dence that comes
with looking and feeling your best.
    Here are a few statistics to think about:
   ––   The average American female lives to be 77 years
        old, the average male 73.

                            - 11 -
             Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams?

   ––   Smoking cigare es can take an average of 10
        years o of your life.
   ––   Being overweight by 20-30 pounds can take an
        extra ve years o of your life.
   ––   According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Con-
        trol), heart disease is the number - one killer in
        America. One person dies every minute from a
        heart a ack.
   ––   Being overweight by 20-30 pounds can increase
        your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and
        other weight related diseases. Obesity (being
        more than 20% over your ideal body weight)
        greatly increases the risk.
   ––   The average male exercises 1.5 times per week
        and the average female 1.1 times per week. Sixty
        minutes of exercise ve days per week is recom-

How Are Your Relationships?
Those who have achieved great things in life most likely
have not done so by themselves. They have had the help
of many di erent relationships, usually involving a
spouse, business partners, work colleagues and friends.
You need support from a variety of people, and that
requires you to maintain healthy relationships. How
are your relationships? Are they caring and loving and
supportive? Do they give you inspiration and energy or
do they drain you of your energy? Are they lled with
anxiety and stress? Are they antagonistic?
     If you are married or have a signi cant other in your
life, this is the most important relationship to help you

                             - 12 -
             e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living

achieve the things you want in life. You must constantly
work at this relationship through the inevitable disagree-
ments, arguments, good times and bad times. It will get
stronger as you go. What I nd with many people is that
they don’’t understand how much you need to work on
a relationship. The couples I have seen that are the hap-
piest are constantly communicating with each other, not
always agreeing, but constantly communicating. This is
critical, especially in a day and age when there are so
many distractions.
     Relationships take time, commitment and most of
all patience. What was the last thing you said to your
spouse before you le today? When was the last time you
showed up with owers or a gi for no reason? When
was the last time you told your spouse how beautiful or
handsome they were? We o en forget these simple ges-
tures because ““life”” tends to get in the way. Work, email,
the kids’’ schedules and many other commitments occu-
py our time. As I said earlier, one of the rst steps is that
you must look at how you truly spend your time. A er
you do this, you must rst schedule time for yourself,
your family and your spouse. Then think about friends,
old and new. Call them, email them, or invite them for
dinner. Go out of your way to be loving and kind to the
people you care about most.
     My wife o en reminds our children, ““We are here
on earth for one reason and that is to help others and
make others feel good.”” I remember the rst time she
said this, and I realized that I had never looked at it like
that. If everyone went out each day with this philoso-
phy, can you imagine how your relationships with all

                            - 13 -
             Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams?

those around you (including complete strangers) would
change? The purpose of our relationships is to help oth-
ers reach their highest potential and to nurture one an-
other to reach our goals.
    We also need others to be around us to give us a
sense of worth and a reason to rise each day. We need
that sense of camaraderie as humans. Remember this as
you leave in the morning to go to work and you look
into the eyes of your spouse or children or you wave to
your neighbor. We need a connection to other human
beings. When you think of the people you have relation-
ships with, think about what you can do for them, not
what they need to do for you. And by doing this, you
will nd that they will help you along the way to create
the life you want.

How Is Your Faith?
My faith is a big part of who I am and is an important
part of my relationship with my family, especially my
children. Your belief is what it is. If your belief is strong,
I encourage you to nurture it. If you have no belief or
very li le, I encourage you to try to discover it. My faith
in God and the strength that faith gives me has allowed
me to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles
and taken me from a place of fear and failure to a place
of absolute joy and success.
     My faith in God gives me the strength to be a loving
father and husband, business owner, friend, and good
citizen of this great country. My belief has helped me
through the deaths of a sister and both of my parents.
It has provided me strength when my business was on

                             - 14 -
             e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living

the verge of going bankrupt and was under siege from
a lawsuit. And most of all, God and my belief in God
bring me great joy on a beautiful spring day when all is
going perfectly. When I look at my beautiful family and
all of the joy that nature and my many friends bring,
who else can receive the credit but God?
    I want you to give great thought to your faith and
what it means to you and those around you. We will dis-
cuss gratitude and faith to a greater degree in Chapter
Three. For now, answer the question, how is your faith?

What Is Important to YOU?
To design the life you have always wanted or to make
any positive change in your life you have to know what
is important to you. Many people will say that their
family is important to them, but then they will work 80
hours per week and not spend time with their family.
Or someone will say their health is important, but then
they will not do anything to support good health. So,
what is important to you? Is it the accumulation of toys
and possessions or is it the accumulation of experiences
that you share with those around you? I used to struggle
with this until a good friend of mine posed a question to
me one day. I now call it the Christmas Gi Question.
    As I talked with my friend David Allen, describing
the book I was writing, we discussed a struggle I was
having. I explained to him that I had a lot of ambitious
business goals and like to own nice things and have the
ability to travel, but that was causing a strain on my
family and my relationships. The con ict I faced was
the choice between spending time with my family and

                            - 15 -
            Are You Living the Life of Your Dreams?

pursuing my business goals. With that, he hit me with
the following question: it is what I call The Christmas
Gi Question.
    ““Tell me one gi you remember ge ing for Christ-
mas each year as a kid from the age of ve to         een,””
David said. I stammered for a moment, not being able to
think of any, and then I did manage to remember ge ing
skis one Christmas when I was probably about seven
and the football game with the guys that would vibrate
up and down the eld and the eld goal kicker that you
hit on the head. That was all that I could clearly remem-
ber over ten years of Christmas during my childhood.
    Then he said, ““Describe the vacations and experienc-
es you and your family shared each year from the age of
  ve to     een. What were some of the adventures you
had?”” Instantly my memory was triggered and a whole
host of things came back to me. I started to describe all
of the great experiences I had as a child growing up in
Alexandria, VA: The summer trip my family made in a
Winnebago down the east coast, the trips to our condo
at Fenwick Island, DE, camping trips to Cave Moun-
tain Lake, VA and the Great Smokey Mountains, trips
to visit relatives in Roanoke, VA, the Riverside Hotel in
Gatlinburg, TN and staying in the tree houses at Disney
World. It was all so vivid and clear. I told him about
my dad coaching baseball and my mom being the den
mother of my Cub Scout troop. I could have talked for
hours about all of the experiences I had growing up.
    Thanks to David it then became crystal clear. Life
is about the experiences we have along the way not
about the accumulation of things. Life is about the ex-

                            - 16 -
              e Practical Guide To Exceptional Living

periences we share with our families and other loved
    This in a broad sense has become my mantra: Live as
long as possible in order to share experiences with the people
you love being around! When you think about this, it is
so simple. Isn’’t this what you want? (If it isn’’t, close this
book and go get your money back!) Think about what
has been important to you in your life. Has it been about
the accumulation of things or has it been about the expe-
rience? Which is more important to you? What changes
do you need to make?
    The purpose of this chapter has been to get you think-
ing about your life and what it has become up to this
point. As we get older and our commitments expand,
our creativity decreases and our dreams somehow begin
to fade into the background. The next two exercises are
designed to get you thinking BIG again. These exercises
are the rst steps, the building blocks, in the journey to
design or redesign the life of your dreams.

Ultimate Life Experience™™
What is your Ultimate Life Experience™™? What is the
one thing you have always wanted to do or the one
place you have always wanted to visit? It may be a trip
around the world, sur ng in Indonesia, going to Lon-
don to watch Wimbledon, traveling to Korea to visit rel-
atives, going to the World Series, or maybe organizing a
family reunion that brings together hundreds of family
members. Right now, I challenge you to consider your
Ultimate Life Experience™™, write it down and include
steps needed to achieve it. Whatever it is, I want you

                             - 17 -
             Are You Living the 
To top